Take a stroll around any HR or recruiting conference, and you’ll overhear many conversations about employer brand. There’s a good reason for that—according to LinkedIn, 75% of job seekers say they consider an employer’s brand before they even apply for a job. And the recruiting process is increasingly driven by candidate preferences, like faster application processes. But what, exactly, are they looking for?
What is employer brand?
Your employer brand communicates your company’s reputation and values to prospective employees. Essentially, it tells candidates if your company is a good place to work and what types of people will succeed there.
For example: data analytics company Tableau’s careers page is all about data—they have stats on the amount of time their employees spend in meetings and employee profile data visualizations, and they present it all alongside playful images of their diverse team. It makes it easy for people to see what they might expect as an employee: lots and lots of data, for sure, but collaborative fun, as well. And that’s exactly the kind of employee Tableau is looking to hire.
Often companies jump immediately to benefits when they’re trying to attract top talent. However, building a lasting employer brand is much more than that—after all, what good are nap pods if those come along with the expectation that employees work 12-hour days? Candidates are looking for strong company culture, an inspiring mission, great work-life balance—not just the best benefits. Civitas, a student success platform, showcases this by putting their mission front and center on their careers page. If you want to see benefits, you’ll have to scroll through their company values, a culture-oriented video, and a listing of awards—a great way to emphasize the importance of mission within their company culture.
Why should recruiters care?
Investing in employer brand can have a major impact on recruiting. One LinkedIn study found that stronger employer brands were associated with a 50% reduction in cost per hire—and recruiters were able to hire more qualified applicants up to twice as fast. Companies that invest in employer brand also end up paying lower salaries and are three times more likely to make quality hires. And it isn’t just felt in the hiring process. The same LinkedIn study also found that strong employer brands led to a 28% reduction in turnover.
Recruiters are also a candidate’s primary contact in that critical time when they’re getting to know the company. Over 75% of candidates see their treatment in the interview process as an indicator of how a company values its people. Those early interactions communicate key information—both explicitly and implicitly—about how the company operates. Are your communications short and impersonal? That may signal to the candidate that they aren’t a priority, leading them to look elsewhere. Did you mix up an interview and need to reschedule? A candidate might think your company isn’t terribly organized. Every single email or phone call is an opportunity to convey information about your company, its culture, and the candidate’s value—make sure the right information is being shared.
How to get started on employer brand
To figure out where your company should focus, think about your target candidates. What are they looking for in their next job? The answers will range from those oriented around career opportunities—mentorship programs and internal growth trajectories—to those more focused more on lifestyle—family leave policies, wellness programs, and ability to telecommute—and some that touch both, like company mission.
Next, think about how you can best get those points across to your audience. Make sure you have a careers page on your website and review the content to make sure it’s telling the story your candidates are interested in. If you haven’t optimized your page for mobile or looked into social media recruiting, it may be time to consider both—45% of job seekers are using mobile devices and 79% are using social media to research new roles.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is to paint an accurate picture that will resonate with your target candidates—after all, if a candidate feels misled in the interview process, they likely won’t last long at the company, anyway.
Small ways recruiters can have a big impact
Even without a massive budget, recruiters can make small changes that can have a large impact.
- Let your candidates know what to expect. No interview process is going to be perfect, you can proactively share information with your candidates to let them know what to expect as things progress. Enova, for example, shares interview experiences from current employees on their blog—a resource candidates can use to prepare and look ahead to know what is coming next.
- Partner with other teams. Recruiting teams are busy! Work with teams outside your own to get more accomplished, faster. Your marketing team is probably already working on brand efforts to sell your products or services, and some of that work may be able to pull double duty. Also, work with your larger HR team to collaborate on ways to keep current employees engaged. Those current employees represent your employer brand every day to their friends, family, and others outside the office. The more enthusiastic those employees are, the more likely they are to recommend others for open roles within the company.
- Fix the fixable. Take a look at your Glassdoor reviews—are they consistently pointing to one or two concerns? Have casual coffee conversations with your coworkers to learn what they like and dislike about working at your company and note any topics that come up time and time again. They may even have ideas for fixing the problem if you ask. Obviously, you’re unlikely to be able to give everyone a significant raise or weeks more PTO, but if there are problems that can be quickly solved, address them.
- Encourage employees to share their experiences. Every company has happy employees—seek them out and encourage them to share what they love about their job on social media and other online forums. Prospective employees are always looking for honest reviews on websites like Glassdoor, and positive reviews can help you land on best places to work lists. That can go a long way in building your employer brand.